Many people believe that by implementing none-polluting, environmentally friendly products, services, and practices, the price must go up- basically that being green is opposite of making money. I vehemently disagree with that statement. There are many methods within design and within everyday life that do not have to turn out that way. This is precisely why I wanted to discuss,
"What is the price of pollution?"
At first, that seems like a lofty, unanswerable question. However, with President Obama's new Cap and Trade system, it's simply a matter of plugging in a few figures and out comes an actual number with a dollar sign. Pretty cool stuff. Business Week explains the system quite simply:
Obama proposes that companies buy an allowance, or permit, for each ton of carbon emitted, at an estimated cost, to start, of $13 to $20 per ton. (Those permits could also be bought and sold.)
Another part of how it works: It is essential that there be a set total amount of permits available; then, that number will need to go down every so often to lower the country's total pollution.
This system will not only encourage sustainable, environmentally friendly practices by reducing emissions- specifically those of carbon dioxide- but it will also stimulate the economy! Although it's quite inaccurate to say that financial gains are opposite of environmental protection, that is the belief of the vast majority of Americans so, a lot of the time, it is true- but it totally doesn't have to be. With this system, there is actual proof that people and businesses can financially succeed without paying the cost of pollution. It's really exciting.
Companies that are already implementing green practices won't be short-changed, either. They can buy up their allowance and sell it to the highest bidder, probably turning a very large profit that they can invest in more green solutions. I, and the Environmental Defense Fund, sincerely believe that eventually, businesses that use as many "pollution permits" as they can get their dirty little hands on will not be able to afford it anymore. Their customers won't be able to afford their services because the prices have gone up substantially because of the high cost of the pollution permits so they will be forced to cut their emissions to lower their prices to stay in business. It's a beautiful cycle.
(This is a similar system to the carbon tax idea and the two methods are thoroughly compared here.)
As an added incentive to consumers, most of the profit made from this Cap and Trade system will find its way back into their wallets in the form of lower taxes. I think that a large portion of the money could also be reinvested in other eco-friendly areas like creating green jobs, providing green business/automobile/housing tax breaks, making more efficient recycling systems, encouraging mass transportation..... Regardless, I'm sure the government will have no problem spending the extra profits.
In conclusion, I simply wanted to open up the discussion by including a very large, realistic example of when environmentally friendliness can actually make you money, now and in the future. Maybe start a super eco-design firm and then, by the time all this goes through, you can sell off all your allowances and make some mad cash. Now that is green.